ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
For the last two years, President Trump has regularly insulted and attacked CNN and its reporters. Last week, the White House revoked the press pass for CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. The White House says Acosta failed to show respect questioning the president. Today, CNN filed a lawsuit arguing that the administration is violating CNN's constitutional rights. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us now. Hi, David.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.
SHAPIRO: What's CNN asking for with this lawsuit? Is there more to it than just getting back the White House press pass?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, in the short term, they want a temporary restraining order from a federal judge to say, hey, for now you can't have it revoked. And the White House is apparently required to offer a written response by 11:00 tomorrow morning. And then there's a hearing tomorrow afternoon, which tells you how quickly this is being addressed. In a greater sense, CNN is saying, look, Jim Acosta and CNN's First Amendment rights are being violated. That is, they are asking questions the press finds inconvenient or uncomfortable.
And his Fifth Amendment rights are being violated. That is, there was no due process here. He says he learned about it by reading about it from other media accounts and announcements and didn't have a chance to appeal it. Jeff Zucker, the head of CNN, tried to talk to the White House chief of staff to say, hey, let's resolve this, and heard nothing back.
SHAPIRO: What's the White House response today?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, the White House's press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said this is just more grandstanding by CNN. They intend to defend it vigorously. And, you know, they had said that this was in part done because Jim Acosta had put his hands on an intern trying to get a microphone back from him. I've got to say, that seemed to be a totally baloney reason. She circulated on Twitter a video to support that case that everybody analyzing it said was doctored.
Now what they're saying is that, you know, they're failing to show respect. Indeed, President Trump on November 9 talked to reporters and saying it might not just be limited to Jim Acosta, but in fact he could consider revoking press passes of other reporters. Here's what he said.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: When you're in the White House, this is a very sacred place to be. This is a very special place. You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.
FOLKENFLIK: President Trump underscoring the idea that you have to show respect to him and deference in order to continue being able to get this pass to the White House press room.
SHAPIRO: Is there any precedent for this, other times a reporter has had a press pass revoked?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, there isn't precise precedent for this. But perhaps the best case involves a ruling by a federal circuit court of appeals back in 1977 in which they said the Secret Service, in denying a press pass to a reporter for The Nation magazine, hadn't made clear that it was doing so in real time and hadn't made clear why it was doing in real time. It didn't give him back the pass, but it gave him a procedure and said he has to be able to appeal this if other reporters are getting access to this general room and if - you know, this can't be done in an arbitrary way or absent very good cause.
SHAPIRO: Do legal experts think CNN has a strong case?
FOLKENFLIK: They kind of do. They think that this has shown to be capricious, that there's no strong reason on First Amendment grounds for the White House to have acted that way, but this seems to be done out of pique. The only concern that you're hearing from people in the press and from lawyers, as well as from news executives and figures like Bob Woodward, is the question of whether this was a wise move.
That is, the president has so often tried to make this presidency of his a case where he's in battle with the press to sue the president. To make it the case of Cable News Network v. President Trump, as it reads in the court document, really embodies that fight. And at the same time, there are media experts, media executives and lawyers, who say sometimes the fight is worth fighting even if it's on the ground that the president wants.
SHAPIRO: NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Thanks, David.
FOLKENFLIK: You bet.
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